Manoj Kumar, known for featuring in films with patriotic themes, will be given the 47th Dadasaheb Phalke Award - the country's highest cinema award - for the year 2015, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry announced on Friday.
The film fraternity congratulated the veteran film actor and director, who called the honour a "pleasant surprise".
"It's a pleasant surprise. I was sleeping, and I started getting calls from my friends. I thought they were kidding, but when I read the news myself, I realised that it's for real," Manoj Kumar, 78, told IANS over phone.
"It is certainly one of the most prestigious awards we have. I am extremely satisfied with whatever I have achieved in my life, and my family is extremely happy with this news," added the actor, whose career began in 1957.
Manoj Kumar's last big screen appearance was in the 1995 film Maidan-E-Jung. He says he will try to be more active in the film industry now.
"I have been absent from the limelight, and that's my mistake. I wanted to make a movie and will soon make one as I want to be more active," he said.